Summer Road Trip: Central Coast

Even after all our 2018 travel so far, Luke and I knew we wanted to get out of town for the 4th of July. We originally had grand plans to finally check Montana off our list, but when our friends who live in Paso Robles – a small wine region just inland from San Luis Obispo – invited us up to their vineyard, we couldn’t resist!

Our friends Rich & Tracy own a gorgeous vineyard property in Paso, Terra Mia, with rows and rows of grapes (most of which are sold to nearby wineries), three homes and a gorgeous wedding and event venue (complete with a fresh water swimming pond!). It’s a stunning landscape from every angle and always such a treat when they invite us to stay! Depending on who else is around (Rich & Tracy are the ULTIMATE hosts and entertainers. I can’t remember a time we’ve visited where there hasn’t been at least one other friend, relative or couple also bunking at the vineyard!), we either stay with them in their home, or, as we did this past trip, in their adorable vacation rental down by the pond. They were kind enough to keep it off the booking site for us for the week of the 4th and it was soooo nice to have the little sanctuary all to ourselves. If you’re headed to Paso and looking for accommodations, I can’t recommend it enough.

DAY 1 // We drove up late Tuesday night so we could get a good sleep and wake up in wine country on the 4th! We left San Diego around 6:30 pm and made it to Paso by 11:30 pm, so easy. The Central Coast region of CA has so much to offer and if you time your drive right, it’s really not that bad. After a rest we woke up bright and early to experience the famous 4th of July parade in nearby Templeton. Armed with a cooler full of Bloody Marys and a veryyyy patriotic ride, we were off!

IMG_4157{ no better way to show up to an Independence Day Parade than in the bed of a red vintage Chevy }

As the parade wound down we made our way to our friends’ favorite wine bar in Templeton, 15 C, for some bubbles. After a few celebratory (‘Merica!) bottles of 15 C’s finest sparkling wines, we headed back to Terra Mia to freshen up and get ready for the barbecue Rich & Tracy had planned down by the pond.

IMG_6713{ we’re the kids in America :) }

I made a point to put my phone away at this point in the day, so no more photos, but it was so nice to just relax under the Willow trees, sample some incredible magnums of Justin Rosé, go to town on Santa Maria tri-tip and ribs, and swim in the pond amongst the Koi fish and ducks! A perfect afternoon if you ask me.

Once most of the BBQ guests trickled home, a shower and a refresh was in order. Then we made our way to the Pub! Not an actual Pub, mind you, but the one Rich has built into his home up the hill! It’s something of an honor to drink in Richie’s pub, and it’s usually where nights at Terra Mia end up! After a second feast on leftover ribs and one too many bottles of red (and a round or two of Sunday Gin & Ts of course!), we were down for a much needed snooze. 4th of July: Success.

DAY 2 // You might think we’d take it easy the day after the 4th but nope. Not when you’re in Paso. We grabbed a quick bite at one of favorite downtown Paso spots, La Cosecha. Little empanadas for an app, soup and a salad were just what we needed after a big 4th. Comfortably full and feeling mostly back to life, we headed straight to our happy place: Adelaida Vineyards! Adelaida is hands down one of our favorite vineyards in Paso. Their tasting room and property is gorgeous, and all their wines are estate grown. We lounged on their patio and took our sweet time tasting through their current line up. Once bottles were purchased for home it was off to our next adventure.

IMG_7735{ the views from Adelaida never get old! }

After a tasting at Adelaida we headed down the road to a new-to-us winery, McPrice Myers. We’d met the winemaker, McPrice (yes, his first name!) at the BBQ the day before and wanted to try his wines. After another lovely tasting we headed back into town for lunch.

IMG_9904{ ‘gramming at McPrice Myers }

We grabbed a quick sandwich at Red Scooter Deli, as we had a few sales appointments to get to (a little, work, a little play!). After successful meetings at a few more of our favorite spots: Third Base Market & Spirits (one of the most incredible selections of any gas station liquor store I’ve ever seen!), The Hatch and the. coolest. speakeasy, Eleven Twenty-Two, it was back to what we do best, lol.

IMG_1104{ working v v hard // sales appointment at The Hatch! }

Work done and dusted, we met up with Tracy and friends at Treana for some live music, paella and more vino of course! Every Thursday evening, Treana hosts these “Thirsty Thursdays,” with a different musician and food truck set up in their beautiful courtyard. Such a fun atmosphere! Definitely check this place out if you happen to be in Paso on a Thursday.

IMG_0189{ charming outdoor space at Treana }

As if we hadn’t imbibed enough (hah) on this 5th of July, we headed back to the Pub for a few too many You & Yours‘ cocktails (we always joke that we drink Rich & Tracy out of all the bottles we bring them before we’ve even left!) and a verrrrrrrry late but very delicious pasta dinner (because Paella is really just an appetizer, right?).

IMG_9925{ Sunset over Terra Mia! }

DAY 3 // The morning of July 6th was no one’s friend… I’ll just say that. After forcing ourselves to eat breakfast and a subsequent snooze on the couch, we rallied and did the only appropriate thing to do in such a state: head to another winery! And I’m SO glad we did because we found a new favorite, Clos Solène. Be sure to book ahead as Clos Solène is appointment only, but so so worth it. The property is currently being brilliantly replanted by the owners (an adorable Frenchman from SERIOUS winemaker lineage and his wife, Solène) but the tasting room attendants are incredibly knowledgeable, not to mention the wines are delectable. So clean, elegant and well made, you could drink each one for days, especially the Viognier blend (my favorite white grape!).

IMG_2155{ hair of the dog: wine tasting at new fave Clos Solène }

Happily feeling the shampoo effect, we hit up one of our favorite areas in Paso, Tin City, a little micro-neighborhood of wineries, breweries and distilleries! BarrelHouse Brewing Co. is a favorite of ours and with the heat upwards of 100 degrees, not to mention a hangover for the books, a nice cold beer was just the ticket. Feeling a bit wine tasted-out, we headed back to Richie & Tracy’s for a casual, relaxing meal al fresco and a (somewhat) early night.

IMG_9919

{ cheeky kiwi waiting for the grill to heat up }

DAY 4 // Having most certainly overstayed our welcome at Terra Mia, lol, we made our way leisurely back down the coast, stopping for a final, romantic evening in our favorite place of all time: Santa Barbara!

About an hour and a half’s drive later, we pulled into one of our favorite hotels, The Belmond El Encanto. We booked through American Express travel and decided to wait an hour or so to get into an upgraded room, happy to spend the time enjoying lunch and a cocktail on their terrace, followed by a little pool time. After a series of unfortunate and out-of-character events for this hotel group, we were double upgraded to a fountain suite, lol. I’ll spare you the details, as I’d like to believe our experience was simply an off day for the property.

IMG_5245{ Au Bon Climat Chardonnay on the balcony before heading into town }

Wanting to soak up all the day light possible on our last full day of vacay, we showered, cleaned up and headed down to the harbour! After a good stroll along the boardwalk, cocktails were in order. We popped into a place I’ve been DYING to try ever since it opened, Loquita. Perhaps the most successful execution of a tapas bar I’ve ever experienced, we nibbled on croquetas and pan con tomate while sipping on gorgeous and deliciously crafted Spanish-style G&T’s.

IMG_9601{ the prettiest G&Ts at Loquita }

After our warm-up course, we made our way to the Funk Zone. Fun fact: we were thiiiissssssss close to signing a lease on a space for You & Yours in the Funk Zone originally! After a few unrelated things fell through, we reevaluated and decided to stay in San Diego. Having whiffed making a reservation, we put our name in at The Lark and killed time perusing the other shops and tasting rooms in the area. After a quick wine tasting (as if we hadn’t done enough of that already omg), it was time to sit down for dinner! The Lark is one of my favorite restaurants of all time and if you’re anywhere near Santa Barbara, it’s a must! We had some of our favorites: the Little Gem salad and the scallops; and some new things too: Sea Bass and the Texas Picnic (ham, bread, pickles + pimento cheese!) of course. Full & happy, we made our way back up to the Belmond for a good night’s sleep.

IMG_4722{ Stearn’s Wharf }

DAY 5 // Again, wanting to soak up every little bit of our time in SB, we grabbed an early breakfast at the hotel and made our way back to the harbour, taking a nice long stroll along Stearns Wharf (one of Luke’s favorite places in the world!), followed by a breakfast beer at Brophy’s because why not tack another one on. Originally having planned on walking along State Street for some shopping, the heat changed our course straight back to the pool! After a couple of hours (and lunch!) by the pool, it was time to pack up and head home.

IMG_0818{ one last Rosé :( }

For more of our favorite places to eat, stay and things to do in Santa Barbara, see my previous Santa Barbara recap!

Share this post!

My Three Best Career Decisions of 2017

2017 was a big year. We finally opened the business and I proceeded to get a crash course in running a small business, ready or not! What ensued was sheer joy and a looooot of learning experiences. Speaking of, below are the three most impactful career-minded decisions I made last year…

1. Working with a Business Coach… I’d met with a business coach a couple of times during a particularly rough patch of the Y&Y build out, not having had a particularly wonderful experience. And although I knew they could be game changing for business owners, I never pursued one again after that early less-than-stellar experience. It wasn’t until I attended a small meet up of like-minded business owners and met Megan that I opened up to the idea again. I immediately felt a connection with Megan, an ease. I felt instantly, almost too-good-to-be-true, comfortable with her. I decided to do a free consult session to talk about what types of things I wanted to work on and was hooked right away. I’ve just finished my first six-month stint with her and cannot say enough good things.

My main reason for wanting to work with her was, on a high level, wanting to be the best possible boss/leader/manager/business owner I could be. I know in every fiber of my being that I know what’s best for the direction of You & Yours …but all the other stuff that comes along with running a customer-facing business, I’m still learning. Managing a team of eight employees, all of which are older than you, several of which have far more industry experience than you, is hyperrrrrrr intimidating and challenging. At the time Megan and I met, this is what I was struggling with the most, and now, six months later, I feel so much more confident and capable in managing and leading my team.

I also found it incredibly beneficial just to have someone to vent to. Now most of us probably vent about work to our spouse or roommate or significant other, but when all three of those people happen to be your business partner too, it doesn’t always work out so well! #Lollll. And on a related note, I don’t always want to go to my partner with every little thing that’s bothering me. He runs his own business too, on top of being involved with me on Y&Y, and taking his time away from those two things to bitch about some random annoyance just doesn’t always feel right. SO, spoiler alert, I found myself occasionally venting to or unloading on the wrong people… namely my employees, and that’s just never a good idea.

Working with Megan allowed to funnel all of those annoyances, all of those fears and struggles and random little chips on my shoulder into one neutral, safe space where not only was I being heard, but actively coached on how to deal with them AND recognize them next time so they don’t keep being a thing. This, my friends, is HUGE. Imagine zero workplace drama, silky smooth employee-manager-boss relationships, and a massive uptick in energy and motivation. That is what working with Megan has created for me and I guarantee you can also have all those things too! And if you need help getting there, I suggest you give her a call!

2. Hiring an Admin… There was a time last year when I was spending, no joke, 60-70% of my time fielding event and partnership inquires. What felt like ALL of my free time was spent on correspondence/logistical back and forth with clients, event planners and potential brands or organizations that wanted to partner up. While I’m incredibly grateful for every email and inquiry that comes our way, managing this side of the business was not and is not my strong suit. I was doing work that I was not really that qualified to do, nor was I particularly passionate about. Working with a business coach helped me realize that if I found the right person to take over this area of our business, I would be free to direct my time towards A. work that is more productive given my strengths, and B. work that actually lit me up instead of drained me.

The main thing that kept me from hiring an administrative role (besides our payroll budget) was the fact that it it felt too self-important. I felt guilty for wanting to pass off these (what felt to me like the. most. soul-crushing) tasks and not just putting in the work myself. Not to sound like a broken record here, but Megan (see decision #1) helped me nip that dumb thought train in the bud real quick. 

Not only did I end up hiring an ‘Events & Admin Manager’, but I hit the actual jackpot with who filled the position. She’s a rock solid, organized gem of an event planner who just so happens to live close to the distillery AND has a very fitting design and marketing background. Does is get any better?! And since adding her to our team, I feel like the freakin’ Queen of strategic delegating. I’m almost too good at it now, seriously. Not only am I free to work on what I want to work on, but the other stuff is getting executed to a WHOLE other level I would have never been able to provide myself. Game. Changer. 

3. Working with a Stylist… This might sound a bit over the top but hands down one of the best career-minded decisions I made last year was working with a stylist, specifically local wardrobe stylist Conni Jespersen.

IMG_5503

{ Conni, helping me pick out an outfit for an upcoming panel! }

A while ago, before I fell in love with distilling, there was a time where I thought a career in fashion might be fun! I’ve always loved to sew and modify patterns and even took a special career-focussed track in high school to study fashion design and merchandising. This is all to say that I looooove getting dressed. I LOVE putting looks together, styling things and perhaps most of all – dressing my friends. Ask anyone who knew me in high school – half my closet was perpetually “out on loan” amongst my besties. Putting the perfect outfit together for an outing or celebration makes me giddy. But once I started the business, time to leisurely put looks together and get dressed at my own pace were things of the past.

Along with this sharp degradation of my free time came a rapid uptick in mandated professional “appearances,” let’s call them. Important meetings where I needed to impress, speaking engagements, photoshoots, on-camera interviews, sales appointments, meeting with other industry professionals, attending industry functions, and so on and so forth. Where my closet used to only have two jobs: “probably working from my dining room table” and “date night,” my wardrobe as a whole now had seemingly endless functions it needed to satisfy.

After attending a few of these aforementioned work things feeling less than dressed-to-impress, I decided to bite the bullet and reach out to Conni. I’d met Connie through my old boss, Cecelia (owner and proprietress of my favorite SD shopping spot – Vocabulary Boutique!) and had been following her journey on Instagram for years. What ensued was such. a. cool. experience.

First we went through my ENTIRE closet and got rid of anything that didn’t fit, flatter, make me happy to wear, or appear to be in good condition. Through that process, we identified pieces or staples I lacked, pieces I wanted to replace with higher quality or updated versions, and pieces I may not naturally gravitate towards but could probably benefit from having.

Then Conni started doing what – in my opinion – Conni does best… STYLING STUFF I ALREADY HAD IN NEW, TOTALLY F-ING COOL WAYS I WOULD NEVER THINK OF BUT STILL FELT LIKE ME! Seriously, it was like I threw out half my stuff but suddenly had an entirely new wardrobe. WTF. MAGIC! Then she’d photograph those looks and put them in a BINDER for me to reference later! I’m blissfully unaware of the severe airplane turbulence I’m experiencing right now drafting this post just thinking about that blessed binder.

But perhaps my favorite perk of all you get with working with Conni was – speaking of airplanes – her help PACKING FOR TRIPS!. Y’all. I legit went to New Zealand for 9 days with nothing but a f’ing CARRY ON thanks to her. She also put together every single look I wore on the vacation I ended up getting engaged on and for that I will always be especially grateful, lol. Packing is now so soooo easy and best of all, I NEVER overpack. It’s such an underrated game changer for someone like me who looooooves to travel, often plans trips last minute, and wants to look put together no matter what, whether the trip be mostly work or mostly play.

IMG_5524

IMG_5521 IMG_5539

IMG_5478

{ ^^ another perk: Conni helping Luke & I coordinate our engagement shoot looks! }

Phewww! Now that this post is officially a mile long, what about you!? What are the best career decisions you’ve made in the last year? I’d love to know!

Share this post!

The Bishop’s Wife at Madison on Park

_MGM5370

Madison on Park is the ultimate combination of sophistication and charm. Nestled on the quaint main drag of University Heights, this baby blue gem of a restaurant & bar offers a truly exceptional bar program complimented by an inspired food menu. Upon entering, you’re transported by the chic indoor/outdoor space, complete with high vaulted ceilings and colorful geometric shapes. This funky yet minimalistic spot is a must for date night or a quick cocktail with friends.

_MGL5554 _MGM5549 _MGM5586

Bar Manager Danny Kuehner runs the ship, turning out everything from perfected classics to one-of-a-kind creations. For those looking for a romantic sip, The Bishop’s Wife is a perfect pink cocktail that’s bound to hit even the non-gin drinker’s spot. It’s no surprise that the Wife is our favorite, as it perfectly compliments You & Yours Distilling Co.‘s Sunday Gin with cranberries, Genepy and lemon. Served in a crystal-inspired coupe and garnished with a pop of fresh cranberries, it’s both eye catching and delicious. 

_MGM5406 _MGM5413 _MGM5425

As for their cuisine, Madison’s food is as beautifully presented as it is flavorful — make sure to order the Tuna Tartare if you’re looking for a fresh starter, and the Pork Chop won’t disappoint as a main. The watermelon stack & roasted cauliflower gratin are amazing additions to the table as well! 

_MGM5561 _MGM5555 _MGM5592 _MGM5533 _MGM5578 _MGM5576 _MGM5524 _MGM5436 _MGM5391

All photos by Lindsey.

Share this post!

2018 Travel Plans & Bucket List

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

For the first time in a few years, we’ve got quite a bit of travel lined up for 2018! The last few years have been all go-go-go, keeping our heads down, with opening You & Yours and all, but now that we’re rocking and rolling and have an epic team in place, we’re incredibly excited to hop back into our travels. Both for work and play. Here’s what we have coming up!

February – A Bachelorette trip to Cabo, then leaving for New Zealand a day later (pray for me). Luke is from NZ and we haven’t been able to make it back in a couple of years. We finally made the snap decision to pop down for a week to celebrate his father’s 65th birthday and hang out with friends and I couldn’t be more excited!

March – TWO Weddings… one in Kauai, HI and one in Jacksonville, FL.

April – A quick work trip to Cleveland (squeezing in a Cavs game!) then Miami for another bachelorette party!

May – Tel Aviv! This will be my very first Forbes 30 Under 30 global summit and I am so stoked! I’ve always wanted to check out Tel Aviv so I’m trying to swing this trip any way I can! Haven’t quite firmed up plans yet but will keep you posted. Also, my Mom’s request for her birthday this year is a trip to Santa Barbara later in the month. It’s one of Luke & I’s favorite places to visit to so we were more than happy to acquiesce.

June – Back to Cabo for another wedding!

July – December… No set-in-stone plans as of yet for the latter half of the year, but planning on heading to the UK at some point for a mixed business/pleasure jaunt. Also hoping to pop back down to the Bahamas for a little wedding planning reconnaissance!

Other trips we’re hoping to squeeze in…

  • Dying to get back to the South – Nashville, Charleston, etc., even if just for a long weekend.
  • Still need to check Montana off my list!
  • At least an SF trip or two. Two of my dearest friends now live there, which is a great excuse for a work trip too. And vice versa! Ha!

Where are you traveling to this year?! Have you been to any of the places we have planned? If so, PLEASE leave a comment or drop me an email – LKJ@Distillerista.com – Would love your recs!

Share this post!

Top 5 Moments of 2017

_MGL7265{ photo cred! }

2017 was a big year. Full of some of the most rewarding and challenging moments of my life so far. I was thinking back on where I was mentally and emotionally this time last year and the tears came flooding. I remember waking up on Christmas morning 2016 with no joy. Just in the trenches. Feeling anxious and stressed and overwhelmed. It’s incredible to think how much has changed this past year. It felt so good to actually look forward to celebrating the holidays… And now I’m crying again! Read on for the top five moments of my 2017.

1. Opening You & Yours! I’m sure it goes without saying this was my proudest moment of 2017, and of my (professional) life thus far! We worked so hard for soooo long (almost three years!) to get the place open and finally doing so was the single greatest feeling in the world, though there were some lingering issues we had to navigate in those early days. Getting our production floor fully up and running a few months later was icing on the cake. Making that first official batch of Sunday Gin in my own still, on my own premises was a moment I’ll never forget… And as 2017 comes to a close, I’m happy to report our only “issue” is the fact that we’re quickly outgrowing our space! *knocks on wood*

IMG_1749

2. Forbes 30 Under 30 This was a total curve ball! Never in a million years did I honestly think I’d be named Forbes’ 30 Under 30… especially just mere months after opening the business. HOWEVER, fun fact: I had three (lofty) You & Yours-related goals for 2017 and nabbing a spot on Forbes 30 Under 30 was the only one I actually checked off the list! Haha! I’ll take it.

Equally as rewarding as making the 2018 list was traveling to NYC for the launch party and meeting other list makers. Having conversations with others who’d been through similar struggles and could relate to how hard you work, what things you sacrifice while building a passion-fueled business, etc. was incredibly refreshing. It gave me a re-energizing sense of validation that has me super excited to dive into new projects next year.

IMG_4622

3. Launching our 3rd spirit & new cocktail menu. Although it took us a little longer than I’d hoped, we finally released our third offering at the distillery – our Winter Gin! We threw a party to commemorate the occasion and the amount of support we felt was overwhelming! We are so fortunate to have such a supportive hospitality community here in San Diego.

Along with the Winter Gin release we debuted a completely revamped cocktail menu. The entire front of house staff chipped in this time around and I love that everyone behind the bar is represented on the menu in some way. It was so much fun to design the concepts and work as a team to execute them. Every time I look at the menu or see a cocktail snap pop up on Instagram, it brings a huge smile to my face.

_MGL8088 _MGS7804{ photo cred! }

4. Taking a real vacay… Another big moment for me more recently was finally feeling like You & Yours has a ROCK solid team in place. One that can allow for me to take a (baby) step back from day-to-day tasting room operations if/when necessary. Coupled with the fact that Luke’s business also hired some key support this year, it allowed us to take some real time off, just the two of us, and leave the laptops at home. We’re feeling so grateful this holiday season for the people we get to work with and the time we get to spend together because of them!

For my birthday a few weeks ago, we took off for a little over a week to the Exumas, a small island chain in The Bahamas. This area is one of my favorite places in the world, as my family and I have been traveling there for over 20 years! It’s also the first place Luke came on vacation with me when we started dating, so it’s super special. It’s also a place that didn’t require any learning curve upon arrival or much planning beyond just booking flights and accommodation, seeing as we’re already super familiar with the area and activities, etc. This was a big plus seeing as all we wanted to do was relax and recharge! See more pics on my Insta!

IMG_5265

5. Getting engaged! As a surprise to perhaps no one but me (hah!), Luke popped the question while we were on vacation. I didn’t think Staniel Cay could be a more special place to me/us, but it sure is now! After almost seven years together and some huge personal and professional milestones under our belt, the timing felt so right. Beyond ecstatic for what 2018 has in store for us both!

IMG_5799

 

Share this post!

San Fransisco Sales Trip!

SF-Sales-Trip-Distillerista-2{ Gin selection at Bitters + Bottles }

With a day to kill before meeting up with a friend in San Fransisco a few weekends ago, I decided to plan a few sales appointments with our California distributor. We’d previously intended to focus solely on San Diego accounts for at least the first few months and had given securing accounts in Northern California little thought. But with a full day to myself and that start-up mentality need to be productive at all times, it felt like the perfect thing to do!

SF-Sales-Trip-Distillerista-1{ THE cutest mini flask of Yellow Chartreuse @ Bitters + Bottles }

First, we hit a few key off-premise accounts, a.k.a. super cool little boutique bottle shops scattered all over the Bay Area. The first one, Bitters + Bottles, in South San Fransisco, was especially cool to visit because the owner had actually visited us at the distillery the week prior while on vacation! I was pretty pleased to be leaving her samples that she could return home to after the rest of her trip, with the experience still fresh in her mind.

SF-Sales-Trip-Distillerista-5{ The shelf of my dreams at Alchemy Bottle Shop }

Second stop was Alchemy Bottle Shop in Oakland. This place had such a clean and airy vibe to it, it reminded me of our own tasting room! Beautiful shelves painted the softest blue really let the bottles of premium spirits pop. I can’t wait to see our product alongside their gorgeous current line-up. Another fun thing about Alchemy is their Gin of the Month Club! Fingers crossed, members may see Sunday Gin as one of their upcoming shipments. 😉

SF-Sales-Trip-Distillerista-4{ Can’t wait to make a batch of Martinis with this! }

Our last off-premise account was a quaint little liquor store in Berkley selling wines, specialty bottled beers and a small but thoughtful selection of spirits. The owner, who tasted on the spot, was incredibly friendly and supportive and raved about what we’re doing at You & Yours. It was such an adrenaline rush to hear that positive of a reaction from someone miles away from San Diego, who had surely never heard of us, but really appreciated both my story and the spirits themselves.  Such a fun moment!

SF-Sales-Trip-Distillerista-6{ Carefully curated spirits selection in downtown Berkely }

Hopefully, Bay Area residents can find Y&Y Vodka and Sunday Gin at all three of the above bottle shops very soon!

SF-Sales-Trip-Distillerista-3{ The perfect Aperitivo cart at Bitter + Bottles }

To close out the day, we stopped by one of my dream accounts, Whitechapel, back in the city. Whitechapel, if you’re not familiar, is a hip cocktail bar in the Tenderloin that focusses on gin, boasting one of the largest selections of gin in the whole country! To see Sunday Gin at Whitechapel, even if just on the back bar alongside all the other gins I love to drink, is a dream come true! Thanks so much to Megan at Whitechapel for the kind words and for helping me check the box on one of my bucket list accounts. :)

Share this post!

Cocktail Crawl: Gaslamp Quarter

Distillerista-Gaslamp-Cocktail-Crawl-Queensborough

{Sunday Gin & tonic @ Queensborough}

San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter gets a bad wrap for tourist traps and baseball traffic, but if you know where to go, worthy cocktail havens do exist! Thanks to long-time stand-bys like Vin de Syrah Wine Parlor, La Puerta and Prohibition, as well as promising recent additons like The Smoking Gun & Queensborough, a classy, quality cocktail-fueled downtown experience is well within reach.

Prohibition This speakeasy-style cocktail bar is my favorite not-so-hidden gem in downtown. Descend the stairs into the den-like space, complete with a makeshift stage area for live jazz. Enjoying one of Ryan Andrews’ stellar dealer’s choices while listening to one of their consistently wonderful musical acts is my favorite thing to do with out-of-town guests!

Vin de Syrah A cheekily designed hidden entrance sets the tone at this subtly Alice in Wonderland-themed wine bar/club. Guests inside can watch a live feed from the hidden camera that catches first-timers trying to find the door! Besides a great wine list and full bar, I love the relaxed vibe and incredible ambiance coupled with music from awesome DJs.

La Puerta This lively Mexican joint is a sure bet for people watching, has a great tequila selection and best of all, offers the opportunity for an epic plate of nachos to soak up all those cocktails! Make sure to try the Californication (Mezcal + lemon + lime + Cabernet barrel-aged Tequila).

Queensborough Newcomer Queensborough wows with a split upstairs/downstairs concept. At street level, a cozy library-esque bar somewhat designed to resemble a subway station entrance is great for after work drinks. Downstairs, a unique relaxed club-like atmosphere beckons. The music, while vibey and seductive, never gets so loud you can’t pro-flirt with your tinder date.

The Smoking Gun Multi-concept ventures seem to be the way to go these days and The Smoking Gun is at least four in one if we’re counting. This new Market Street spot offers a hip coffee shop (Spill The Beans) serving bagels in the mornings, as well as an open and airy cocktail bar serving casual yet elevated bar fare with BBQ tendencies. As if that wasn’t enough, the cocktail bar side boasts ping pong and foosball tables for your rallying pleasure. Eric Johnson is at the helm, so you can rest assured all craft cocktail libations will be top notch!

Share this post!

5 Quintessential San Diego Date Night Ideas

Distillerista-Date-Night-Ideas-3{ can’t go wrong with fish tacos & rosé}

Blue Water Fish Tacos by the bay… Make like a local and call ahead to place your to-go taco order at Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill. Grab a bottle of rosé at Pali or Vino Carta en route to swoop your tacos (skip the line and walk straight up to the register if you called ahead!), then head to either Spanish Landing or Cancer Survivor’s Park along the Bay. Plenty of benches and picnic tables make for a sweet, low-key dinner al fresco. Pro-tip: time it right so the sun is setting as you’re polishing off the last bites!

Distillerista-Date-Night-Ideas-1{ my go-to poke order: half white rice, half greens, salmon, creamy spicy sauce, furikake, scallions & jalapeños! }

Poke @ Kate Sessions… Head to Pacific Beach for one of two favorite poke spots: Poke Chop (Shout out to Whitney for the rec! We’re obsessed!) or Good Time Poke. Grab a couple bowls to go and drive up the hill to perhaps my favorite spot in all of San Diego, Kate Sessions Park! The views of downtown and Mission Bay are breathtaking and the serene, sloping lawn provides plenty of space to camp out on a blanket. Pro-tip: don’t forget to pack that 6-pack of your favorite craft beer.

Distillerista-Date-Night-Ideas-2

{ throw it on the grill and you’re done: flat iron for two, sweet peppers and broccolini }

Tour Specialty Produce & cook a meal at home… I kid you not when I say I want my ashes spread at Specialty Produce. This place turns me into a kid in a candy store! Specialty Produce is a massive wholesale produce supplier for San Diego county’s restaurant scene but is open to the public as well. Walk in during their public hours, sign in, grab some gloves and produce bags and ask one of the plentiful and friendly staff for a tour of the different rooms, walk-ins, and aisles. They carry all the basics you find at the grocery store (both conventional and organic/farmer’s market) plus tons of not-so-basic ingredients like carrots, cauliflower, beets, and peppers in every color of the rainbow. And that’s just a scratch on the surface. You name it, they have it! Take advantage of their vast selection and grab those exotic ingredients called for in that recipe you’ve had bookmarked forever.

_MGM8189{ mix like the pros after a cocktail making class! // photo cred :) }

Cocktail Making Class + East Village Cocktail Crawl… If you’re a cocktail enthusiast or budding mixologist, head to downtown distillery  You & Yours Distilling Co. for a cocktail making class (offered on the third Wednesday of every month, from 6:30 to 8 pm). Attendees will learn how to measure, shake, stir and pour drinks as well as have the opportunity to make and enjoy two cocktails, all while learning a brief history of the drinks being made. Once you’ve mastered the tricks of the trade, pop around the neighborhood for a few of my favorite cocktails!

Stand Up Paddle Board & Brunch… Though technically a better day date idea, if you’re looking for something a little more active, rent paddle boards at my favorite rental shop and cruise around the Americas Cup Harbor. I prefer this spot for SUP because it’s nice and quiet, usually pretty flat and there’s so much to see! I love looking at all the boats and paddling out of the harbor and around to Shoreline Park where you can post up at the small sandy beach in front of Humphreys for a breather. After your morning paddle, grab brunch (and perhaps bottomless mimosas?) at Jimmy’s Famous Tavern next door.

Share this post!

Cocktail Crawl: East Village San Diego

EAST-VILLAGE-COCKTAIL-CRAWL{ a sampling of cocktails at newly opened You & Yours Distilling Co. }

Not that long ago venturing past 8th or 9th street was an at-your-own-risk activity, but these days grungy, up-and-coming East Village has become a destination worthy of its own adventure! If one thing’s for sure, it’s that this budding downtown neighborhood definitely isn’t hurting for quality cocktails… Bookmark my picks below for your next night out on the town!

Neighborhood – Start off at this neighborhood (pun, intended) staple on the cusp of East Village. Although craft beer is more their thing, you can still enjoy a superior cocktail, seeing as they have an award-winning speakeasy hidden in the back of the restaurant! Depending on your plans, jump on their website or talk to the host behind the false keg wall and try making a reservation to come back later in the evening. The speakeasy, Noble Experiment, is surely worth the return visit but requires a bit of planning ahead.

Harvest by The Patio – Head towards the ballpark and fuel up for the rest of your night with some delicious (and guilt-free) fare like the crispy lemon ginger artichokes and a cocktail made with local spirits at their adorable bar upstairs. I love stopping by this Patio Group spot for a healthy lunch, too!

You & Yours Distilling Co. – Pop over to California’s first urban destination distillery on 15th & G for a tasting flight or cocktail made entirely with spirits distilled on site. Side note: I’m obviously biased, but for real, come see us!

Monkey Paw – Just around the corner from You & Yours is beloved dive/brewery Monkey Paw. Although they’re far better known for their tap selection (which includes their own brews), Monkey Paw boasts a full bar and better-than-average cocktail program. Head over before the end of the year for a couple of limited edition beer cocktails featuring You & Yours’ spirits! 😉

El Dorado – Wrap things up at this classic late night spot known for their high-quality and exceptional-value craft cocktails. With any luck, you’ll catch the tail end of a killer DJ set too.

Any other favorite East Village cocktail spots of yours? Let me know!

Top image.

Share this post!

Everything I Ate & Drank in Charleston, SC

Processed with VSCO with nc preset
{ Could not get over the beauty this city has to offer! }

It sure took me a while but I finally made it to Charleston! I’ve had my eyes on the southern city for some time… I even wrote “visit Charleston” on the list of (fun) things I wanted to do in 2017!  When I decided to enroll in a distilling workshop in Kentucky, I knew it was going be one of very few, if not the only, chances to hop over to South Carolina this year. My course finished on a Wednesday evening, so we stayed in Louisville one extra night, then rented a car and drove to one of my favorite cities, Nashville. The only way to fly to Charleston from Louisville was with a layover in Chicago, so we decided to spend a quick 12 hours in Nashville, – a.k.a. just enough time for dinner at Rolf & Daughters, drinks at the brand new Attaboy outpost and a few too many at Robert’s Western World! 😉 – then fly from Nashville to Charleston the following morning.

The main agenda points for the weekend were obviously food and drink. Charleston is without a doubt the current darling of the American culinary scene, and I wanted to fit in as many bites and sips as possible. Below is a full itinerary of what we ate and drank over the course of our weekend in Charleston!

Friday 2 pm. I originally had my eye on Xiao Bao Biscuit for a late lunch on arrival but failed to note they close for a couple of hours in the afternoon before dinner service. My plan B was 167 Raw, which was hilariously and vehemently recommended by our captain over the plane’s intercom during our descent into the Charleston airport. I’d had it on my list already but the captain’s blessing made the decision an easy one. Maybe I was just hungry, but 167 Raw was, hands down, one of the best seafood meals I’ve ever had! We started with a dozen oysters (and their house white), which we let the fishmonger choose for us, then moved on to a special that day – chilled corn soup with crab. I’m a sucker for anything with fresh sweet corn during the summer months so I had to. Post-apps we moved on to a shrimp po’boy which was to. die. for. The trio of sauces gracing the perfectly battered and flash-fried shrimp – a sriracha aioli, red beet reduction, and green goddess drizzle – sent the dish over the top. We then finished off with the fish taco of the day, grilled halibut, and a glass of the wine special that day, a natural orange wine that was super tannic and interesting. We felt silly ordering fish tacos, coming from San Diego after all. We sat there thinking, What could Southerners possibly do to top our home city’s signature dish?, but the sneaky trick of smearing avocado BETWEEN TWO TORTILLAS (double decker-style for my fellow T-bell fans) was a brilliant trick I will not soon forget.

Friday, 7:30 pm. Pre-dinner drinks at our hotel’s rooftop bar, The Watch.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset
{ Creme de Violette libation at The Watch }

Friday, 8:30 pm. I’d made reservations weeks earlier for Sean Brock’s tasting menu only McCrady’s. Hidden behind his more casual spot, McCrady’s Tavern, sits a private kitchen and dining room that is both staffed and decorated impeccably. All 12+ courses (or “interactions,” as they’re called) were stunning but the standouts were the cobia with corn and marigold and the sorbet with summer flowers. I have to mention that what actually made the meal for us were the wine pairings! We usually skip wine pairings at fancy tasting menu spots, seeing as you’re likely already paying a good chunk of change for dinner, but we decided that I’d do the pairings and Luke would do a glass of white, then a red as the meal progressed. I’m so happy we did it this way because the pairing pours were so generous that we easily shared the glass with each dish, and were so, so impressed. Funny enough, the Sommelier there, Myers, turned out to be one of Luke’s old coworkers from his Market days!

Friday, 11 pm. Aforementioned Myers sent us to see his friends at The Dewberry hotel’s lobby bar. The bartender served up an incredible night cap with an amaro and all kinds of other delicious things I’ve now sadly forgotten. Turns out, the night cap wasn’t that night’s final “cap”. We got so excited talking distilling and cocktail culture and Charleston vs. San Diego with the Dewberry crew that by the time we left, we’d partaken in no less than two manhattans, a boulevardier and perhaps one too many Army & Navy’s, snaquiri style. 😉

Charleston-Distillerista-1{ our cozy and spacious room at The Restoration }

Saturday, 8:30 am. Our hotel, The Restoration, drops off a picnic basket full of breakfast goodies of your choosing each morning, as a part of the room rate. We went all out the first morning to see what we liked – croissant, English muffin, housemade butter, country ham, granola and yogurt parfaits, Charleston tea and delicious coffee. We made a note to order an extra helping of the yummy country ham the next day!

Charleston-Distillerista-3{ the immaculately preserved Aiken Family Library at the Aiken Rhett House }

Saturday, 1 pm. After a bike ride around South of Broad and tour of the Aiken Rhett house, we snagged a Lyft over to The Obstinate Daughter. Although we were hoping for more seafood options, we loved our lunch at the highly recommended Sullivan’s Island staple. We started off with a gorgeous crab salad on pumpernickel toast and the gem salad, then split an incredible orecchiette with fresh summer corn (told ya I can’t help myself), nduja, peppers, chile, parsley, and parmesan. The pasta was one of my favorite dishes of the whole weekend!

Charleston-Distillerista-13 { a (not so pretty) screenshot of a boomerang of our rooftop cheers at Revelry lol }

{ a (not so pretty) screenshot of a boomerang of our rooftop cheers at Revelry lol }

Saturday 3 pm. After a stroll along the beach and a peek at the lighthouse on Sullivan’s Island, we headed back towards the city to check out Revelry Brewing Co. Enjoying a cold beer on their rooftop deck, overlooking the city and watching a famous southern rain storm roll in was definitely a high point of the weekend!

{ Hiding out from the rain at the Nathaniel Russell House }

Saturday, 8 pm. After hiding out from the rain with a few indoor activities, we headed up to North King for our southern fried chicken fix at Leon’s Oyster & Fine Poultry. Although not thoroughly sold on the fried chicken, we loved the atmosphere and cocktails!

Saturday, 9 pm. Even though we had an early morning the next day, we decided to fit in one more spot and grab an after dinner drink at the bar at The Ordinary. Upon hearing we hailed from San Diego, the bartender ordered us the ceviche on the spot! Not entirely satisfied with our dinner choice, the gesture was so sweet and appreciated! As if that wasn’t enough, we ordered a fried oyster slider to round out the night. For drinks, I ordered one of their daiquiris with a port cask finished rum (riffs on the classic cocktail being their claim to fame) and Luke had a classic Daquiri. Casual bartender of the year then surprised me with an Old Tom Gin Last Word after overhearing my love for Old Tom Gin! Night. Made.

Saturday, 10 pm. Couldn’t pass up a Jeni’s scoop on the way home, #sorrynotsorry.

Sunday, 7 am. We sleepily scarfed down more country ham and English muffin before heading out on an early morning walking tour.

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset
{ enchanting Duelers’ Alley, discovered on our walking tour }

Sunday, 1 pm. Brunch at Hominy Grill. What we thought was a local favorite turned out to be more of a tourist trap. Not super impressed. Wish we would have hit our second choice, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit.

Sunday, 2 pm. Cocktails at The Darling Oyster Bar. Saddling up to their drop dead gorgeous bar with a Lillet Royale – Lillet Blanc, Brut Rosé and orange bitters – was the perfect way to cap off the trip!

Safe to say, I can’t wait to head back to Charleston! I’ve already booked a trip in the spring for the Charleston Food & Wine Festival. Tell me, have you been to Charleston? What other spots did I miss? I’ll be sure to put them on my list for next time!

Share this post!